Phase two of a project to convert four Grade 2 listed buildings, formerly constructed as town houses in the 1850s, into residential apartments and first mentioned here is nearing completion. Final inspections have been completed and the first five apartments are ready to be occupied by their new tenants.
It is always a real pleasure at this stage to photograph the rejuvenated spaces. This particular phase, however brings with it the opportunity to reflect on how unusual details have been incorporated into the design.
The photograph above shows a timber panelled door, surrounded in period architrave, originally constructed as a large vertical sliding door and situated between what would have been the family living room and the dining room in the original house. It was discovered when a large area of boarding was removed and was at first thought to be a pair of horizontal sliding doors. Further inspection showed it moved vertically and slid into a double partition in the floor above and the problem of what to do with it was raised.
We needed to insert a shower room and an entrance lobby in the space behind the door and could not justify the removal of such an interesting feature. The solution came after a not inconsiderable amount of sketching and pondering; split the door in two and use one half as an opening door leaf and the other half as a fixed ‘wall’. A natural progression of this thought was to match the panelling for the new front wall of the shower room and to conceal the shower room door in the panelling. In addition, allowing the opening leaf to fold right back onto the fixed leaf provided the ability to open up the entrance lobby into the new living/dining/kitchen room.
Manipulating space in this fashion and incorporating potentially problematic features are key skills of a good architect. As always, I would be interested to hear what my readers think, or if you have had to overcome similar problems.